Yes, I am gay, well lesbian if you want to be precise. I never really struggled with my identity. Ok, I didn’t want to ‘come out’ so easily, but when I did, it was no big deal. I’m lucky in that respect. I’ve never really had to fight to be who I am and I am pretty much accepted wherever I go.
One thing though, I can’t really say I’m ‘proud’ to be gay. What is there to be ‘proud’ about? I have made a life for myself, I am happy, working hard and getting on with things. Same as my straight friends…and I never hear them screaming ‘ I’m straight and proud’. So why is there some kind of expectation that gay people should be loud and proud about their sexuality?
My sexuality is not something that I chose, it is not something I have achieved. Unlike my work, I have achieved things there, so I am proud of that. I just can’t be proud of something I had no say in.
Whilst in my office last week, we got onto the topic of men. It’s a fairly common female-based office topic. When asked for my opinion on what men are like, I couldn’t think of a suitable response. So I simply said ‘ they’re male, I know some men, they’re ok’. My colleagues then proceeded to ask if I fancied any bloke in the office. I then thought “Hmm it mustn’t be a known thing that I’m gay…am I a fake??” Ha…no. After I had explained that I am gay and in a relationship with a woman, after the stunned silences and raised eyebrows the main thing my colleagues wanted to know was why they didn’t already know that?
One colleague Deb* explained how in a previous role there was a woman working there who was gay. Her desk was covered in rainbows, the female sign and quotes about being out and proud. She couldn’t understand why my desk had charts, pictures of my son and a painting by a little known artist. Why wasn’t I screaming GAY!?! I explained, as best I could, that similar to her old colleague, I have on my desk what I am proud of. Most of the office then presumed I was ashamed of being gay, simply because I wasn’t pushing it in everyone’s faces. Weird.
I had never been in this situation before, being harassed for not being gay enough. What? Another colleague, Linda* thought I was incredibly rude about it all, not supporting gay rights and being openly gay and proud. For one, I never said I wasn’t in support of gay rights, to be fair I didn’t say I was…the issue seemed to be that I didn’t shout about it.
I am not in support of individual groups rights, but rights for everyone as a whole, a collective. Not just because they’re gay.
I was asked for my opinion on the situation in Russia. When I said I didn’t really have an opinion on specific topics I was blasted…”you’re gay, you should know all about the gay rights in this world…the effects they have, the treatments people are receiving, everything” – Yes dear, as you put it, I am gay, not a fucking encyclopaedia of world gay rights issues. Nor am I a politician or in any position to be discussing political issues. I am not thick, or uninterested, I just have a lot on and watching the news and reading the papers has taken a back step for me. Yes I should be more involved in the world I live in and yes I should educate myself more on these issues…..but why specifically the gay rights? Why because I am gay should I have an in-depth understanding of the political workings in another country.
When I asked her if she had a good knowledge of the fight women had for equal rights and freedom, she couldn’t answer me. She didn’t have a clue, yet by her own standards, as a women, she should know all about every single issue that has affected women in this world…it is her responsibility…right?
Now, I am sitting wondering if I should be more ‘out’ about being gay, is this the norm?? A lot of gay people believe we should be screaming it from the rooftops, wearing our flags and protesting for the right to be married, have equal rights etc etc. But why? Why should I have to do any of those things? Everyone should have the same rights as others, but me pinning a rainbow badge to the front of my coat is not going to move that mountain. Yes it shows our support to others and ordinarily, I would love to join in. But I just can’t stand there, screaming to the top of my lungs about how proud I am to be gay, it’s like saying you are proud to breathe.
I am happy and proud of who I am, but not because I’m gay, but because I’m Me. That is something that I will always have, and no matter how many P!nk concerts I go to, no matter how many rainbows I put on my desk, I’m just another person, does it all really matter?
*Names changed (even though you have no idea who these people are, or in fact where I work 🙂 )